Stephen Lowry seeking home comforts for Coleraine

Stephen Lowry says Coleraine are determined to keep their Europa Conference League qualifier alive for the second leg.

By Steven Crawford
Thursday, 8th July 2021, 6:00 am

The Bannsiders are in Sarajevo to take on FK Velez Mostar in what is a tricky first round tie.

But experienced campaigner Lowry feels their strength of being hard to beat will stand them in good stead, just like it did when they shocked NK Maribor last season.

“One of our big strengths is that we are really hard to beat,” said Lowry.

Coleraine's Stephen Lowry.

“We are a real team unit, we’re together and teams don’t create a lot of chances against us.

“We believed in ourselves last year, but realistically the game against Maribor we probably wouldn’t have won eight or nine times out of ten.

“We rode our luck but we got over the line.

“I don’t think Velez will be as good as Maribor, but they will still be top drawer, they have high calibre players when you look at the value of their squad.

“We will be up against it, but I’ve been there before, you’re always in that kind of situation against full-time teams, but we always seem to do ourselves proud and hopefully we can do that again.

“It’s two-legged ties this year again and no away goals, which is different.

“Our mission is to go out there and make sure we put in a performance to keep the tie alive for the return leg.

“In the past you would have looked at maybe getting an away goal, but it’s not that important now.

“The key thing for us will be to keep it tight at the back and try to keep a clean sheet.

“I haven’t done too much homework on our opponents.

“I’ve played a good few games in Europe but Bosnia is somewhere I’ve never been to either.

“It will be a new experience for us, but it’s one all the players are looking forward to.

“It’s going to be a big ask as they’re obviously full-time, but we’ve done well in the past and we want to prove people wrong and represent the league well.”

This tie will see both clubs playing their home leg away from their usual venue.

With a new pitch being laid at Coleraine Showgrounds the Bannsiders will entertain their opponents at Mournewview Park next week.

Velez Mostar have also moved their game, they will now play 80 miles away in Sarajevo.

Up to 5,000 of the ‘Red Army’ will be at the Stadion Grbavica but Lowry is looking forward to the occasion.

“I’m actually glad they will have fans there,” he said.

“When you go to play in these games you want the full occasion and suck up the atmosphere.

“They aren’t a household name in Europe and it’s the first time they have qualified in a while but you know they are good to be a good side.

“They will also be playing away from their home ground with the game being played in Sarajevo.

“So it will be a case of going into the unknown, but most European games are like that, and until you get out onto the pitch you don’t know what to expect, but after the first five or ten minutes you find your feet.

“I know Oran will have us well drilled so that we can bring the tie back home still alive.”

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